The 22nd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), opens today (November 19 ) with the world premiere of War Games And The Man Who Stopped Them by Polish director Dariusz Jablonski.

The film kicks off 11 days of screenings, industry events and debates. More than 2000 guests are expected to attend IDFA.

War Games is about a Polish colonel who passed on more than forty thousand strategic documents concerning the Warsaw Pact to the American CIA during the Cold War.

Visitors in Amsterdam this week will include the son of drug baron Pablo Escobar, who will be attending the screening of Nicolas Entel’s Sins Of My Father (which offers a son’s perspective on Escobar) and documentary maker Maziar Bahari, recently released after spending four months in prison in Iran following last summer’s disputed elections.

Revered US documentary maker Frederick Wiseman is receiving a special tribute to mark his 80th birthday. Wiseman will also be presenting his new film, La Danse, and giving a masterclass. Another legendary figure from US documentary, DA Pennebaker, is also in town.

British filmmaker Julien Temple will be at IDFA for the screening of Oil City Confidential, his new documentary about rock band Dr Feelgood which is being sold internationally by Hanway. Temple will be giving the first IDFA Media Fund Lecture.

Festival director Ally Derks has called this year’s programme the strongest in a decade. “The films are more cinematic,” Derks commented of the increasing ambition of documentary makers to secure theatrical releases for their work.

IDFA is starting a new competition programme, Premieres From The Lowlands.
This will showcase the best films from the Netherlands, all of which will be vying for a new prize, The IDFA Award for best Dutch Documentary, to be chosen by an international jury. Seventeen titles are in contention.

From 23 to 25 November, IDFA hosts its annual project market, The Forum, which allows filmmakers to pitch their projects to commissioning editors, sales agents and financiers.

Meanwhile, 450 titles are available to buyers through IDFA’s “Docs For Sale” market. These films can now be seen all the year round by buyers and festival programmers through the festival’s new online platform.

Underlining the increasingly blurred lines between documentary and fiction, IDFA will be giving a world premiere to Ditteke Mensink’s Farewell, telling the story of English journalist Lady Grace Drummond-Hay who, in August of 1929, two months before the Wall Street crash, was sent by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to cover the Graf Zeppelin’s voyage around the world. The film’s imagery is entirely archive based but its voice-over, although based on letters and articles written by Drummond-Hay, is largely fictional (and was written by Mensink herself.)

IDFA runs 19 to 29 November.